Perspective with Mathematics

1) “No matter how dominate a worldview is, there are always other ways of interpreting the world. Different ways of interpreting the world are manifest through different cultures, which are often in opposition with one another” (Bear, 2000, pg. 77).

Mathematics just like another aspect of the the world is interpreted by cultures and their own perspectives. Throughout history the Eurocentric cultures have been a strong influence in the development of the world and mathematics. Those cultures are responsible for the type of mathematics being taught in today’s society across north america.

There is no doubt that mathematics follows the singular social order of the Eurocentric cultures. The foundation of mathematics being taught in today’s society is based upon their concepts, examples, language, and history. There are automatic benefits in education for people who grew up in this way of life.

Even the curriculum supports this with its  little mention of diversity in the classroom and when they do mention diversity they make trivial connections to homonyms. This is not to drive away the importance of identifying words that have other meanings in other cultures. It is extremely important for ever children to understand what is being asked of them.  But this does not make up the fact that there are different ways of learning and each culture will have a unique approach to teaching and understanding mathematics based on their concepts, language, and history.

All of these aspect would make it harder for students who are not part of the dominate culture to understand and make connections in mathematics.

 2) The three challenges to Eurocentric ideas about the purpose of mathematics and how we learn it are;

  1. Mathematics and culture: “Until recently, mathematics was looked at as
    a universal language”. In a counterexample the Inuit peoples use a base-20 numeral system, while euro-cultures use a base-10. In this instance the thought of mathematics being universal is challenged.
  2. Teaching Methods: In the eurocentric culture  the main methods of teaching mathematics is through paper and pen exercises. While the Inuit focus their teachings through observing elders and listening to enigmas.
  3. Spatial Relation: To define spatial relation it is to “specifies how some object is located in space in relation to some reference object”(definition). This is a type of skill that students can learn and develop over time. There are many ways to advance spatial relations with our experiences and own understandings.  So it makes sense that different culture could be more skilled in certain relations then others. For example the “12-year-old student raised by a traditionalist grandfather who did
    not send him to school”. He struggled with geometry, but excelled at the strategy game. In the reading it suggest that, “the current curriculum does not put much emphasis on these strengths”. So, it challenges the euro-cultures perspective on mathematics.

Bear, L. L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Batiste (Ed.), Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision (pp. 77-85). UBC Press.

Poirier, L. (2007). Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 7(1), p. 53-67.

2 thoughts on “Perspective with Mathematics

  1. Hi Brooklynn!
    I really like the quote you started your post off with! Prior to reading this article I never would have applied it math. As a math major, do you have any ideas or plans to incorporate other math perspectives into your lessons?
    Thanks for sharing,


  2. Pingback: Please Read! | Brooklynn Seck

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